Kent State University Freshman Class Sets Enrollment Records Following Top Year for Graduates
From snow-capped mountains in Alaska to the tropical beaches of Hawaii to the South Korean countryside and palatial modern architecture in Oman, a diverse collage of students from around the country and the world has descended on campus. Together, they make up Kent State University’s robust student body, comprising more than 38,000 students from all 50 states and 100 countries.
The 2018 freshman class arrives as the largest for the Kent Campus in university history. With 4,363 students, this class has 100 more students than a year ago and topped the previous record high set in 2016.
The academic quality of this new class also reached record highs with an average 3.4 high school grade point averages (GPA) and an average ACT score of 23.5. Nearly half of these new freshmen arrive with more than 16 college credits – the equivalent of a full semester – from courses they completed in high school.
This high-achieving class follows a record year for Kent State’s graduates who earned 5,758 baccalaureate degrees for the 2017-18 academic year, surpassing the previous year’s record and nearly doubling the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded in 2000.
Freshman Katie Applequist chose Kent State for many reasons, including following in the footsteps of a special family member.
“I initially looked into Kent State because of the good reputation I’d heard and the fact that my great grandmother graduated from Kent Normal School in 1930,” Ms. Applequist says. “Once I toured a few times and saw that the reputation of a nice campus, good food, a good honors and education program, and nice people wasn’t just talk, I was excited to begin my journey as a Golden Flash.”
In addition to the growing number of freshman students, the number of out-of-state students rose nearly 10 percent this year. The number of first-generation students also rose, up nearly 7 percent compared to last year.
Elijah Kirkland-Boyce, from the Pittsburgh area, is the first in his family to attend college. Now in his junior year, Mr. Kirkland-Boyce is pursuing a degree in athletic training in Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services.
“I fell in love with the campus because it is so beautiful,” Mr. Kirkland-Boyce says. “Kent State wasn’t far away from home, but it was just far enough.”
The class size for underrepresented freshmen is also setting records as one of the largest in history, and the success gap between underrepresented and non-underrepresented is closing with the help of improved retention rates, up nearly a percentage point. Kent State’s University College offers academic diversity outreach and student support programs to help students explore majors, engage in the campus community, receive academic assistance and ultimately graduate.
Jordan Wilkins took part in Academic STARS, a six-week cultural transition and retention program designed for newly admitted African-American, Latin American, Hispanic, Native American and multiracial freshmen.
“The program helped me understand the significance of being African-American and my history,” says Mr. Wilkins, who graduated in May. “I never lost sight of why I was at Kent State in the first place.”
This year’s freshman class also is seeing an increase in international students. Students on the Kent Campus come from countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, India, Oman, Nepal, South Korea, Bangladesh, Canada and Nigeria – to name a few. The number of students enrolled at Kent State Florence in Italy is also trending up, just as classes get underway at the American Academy, a new partnership between Kent State and Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR), a major university in Brazil, for students who want a global experience while earning their degree.
Additional areas of enrollment growth include a spike in undergraduate and graduate students in Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design and the College of Public Health.
Enrollment on the campuses of Kent State University at Ashtabula, Kent State University at Trumbull and Kent State University at Tuscarawas also improved.